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Title:Agency in Kapsiki religion: a comparative approach
Author:Beek, Wouter vanISNI
Book title:Strength beyond structure: social and historical trajectories of agency in Africa
Geographic terms:Cameroon
African religions
Abstract:Agency is first of all a meta-theoretical concept that informs ways of thinking about the relationship between the individual and society, between agent and structure. This article analyses the ways in which the Kapsiki of northern Cameroon and northeastern Nigeria perceive their freedom for action and construct their theories of causation. First, it describes the relevant notions of Kapsiki religious beliefs, including the concept of personalized gods ('shala') and notions of evil. Then the focus moves to the Kapsiki's cultural devices to preview the future, i.e. divination, and the lines along which agency is constructed in Kapsiki religious thought. The article shows that the main notion of agency in Kapsiki thought resides in the interplay between an individual, his position in life and the 'other side of the world'. The final section is comparative, taking its inspiration from the classic essay 'Oedipus and Job in West African Religion' by Meyer Fortes (1959) on African thinking about personhood. The Kapsiki notion of agency is compared with a discussion of agency in reformation theologies and with early Jewish thinking. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Book abstract, edited]